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Opening Session Kicks Off the Conference

Posted By Jeanne Yocum, Sunday, October 13, 2013

With over 500 people registered for NACCE2013, the Hilton ballroom is going to be jam packed for general sessions. North Carolina, site of the conference, has done itself proud, with over 90 people from NC attending. I'm sitting with people from Fayette Technical Community College and Vance Granville Community College, both in NC. North Carolina has 58 community colleges! Wow!

NACCE President and CEO Heather Van Sickle kicks off the conference by noting that Charlotte is NASCAR country. She mentions that racers are current in what’s known as the Chase. "We’re living in a very uncertain times for community colleges and staying the same and playing it safe will not prepare our students and our communities for the challenges they meet,” she said. "If you’re not moving forward, you’re going to get lapped. We will ask you in the next 4 days to take an honest assessment of your college to assess your classes, your department, and your entire college that will keep you in the race and letyou help your community.”

Next up is Dr. R. Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System. "One of the things that has always struck me about the NC Community College System is how we started. We started out of an entrepreneurial economic effort back in the 1950s, when NC was the 2nd poorest state in the country. A very entrepreneurial governor had two crazy ideas. The first was to build a research park in the middle of the woods, which became the Research Triangle. His other idea was to build a network of industrial education centers, out of that grew the first customized industrial training programs in theUS and the NC community college system.” HEAR THE AUDIO OF DR. RALLS HERE.


Dr. Mary Rittling president o the Davidson County Community College is also part of the welcmoing committee. She tells the personal story of her grandparents who were immigrants and were a great part of the economic engine. "My grandmother told me that you could make a difference if you think,” she said. "I can hear he telling me that over and over again in Polish. This was a great place with great opportunity. Our job as leaders is to help people see that and guide them along. My grandparents didn’t see themselves as entrepreneurs. But they saw the possibilities that were there for them and for their children. But in many ways we’re talking about the spirit, the spirit of seeing something different.


Here are some things that I’m left with as a leader at a community college that are important," she added. "We excel when we’re agile, and when we’re good listeners and we never say no to a student or an idea. We allow them to take the risk. We have faculty who want to each but we also coach; we push students along and that’s very important. As leaders we’re not afraid to take new approaches"


Dr. Rittling concluded by quoting Albert Einstein: "Logic will get you from A to B; imagination will get you everywhere." HEAR THE AUDIO OF DR. RITTLING HERE.


Dan Roselli, cofounder of Packard Place, spoke next. Packard Place is an entrepreneurship center in Charlotte. "There is co-share space and three different incubators, a real hub. We took an $8 million risk in the middle of the great recession to do this, including buying a 100K square foot building,” he said. "This was comparable to stage diving. So that’s some background on how the Charlotte entrepreneurial community came together.”


Dan say that the entrepreneurship push in Charlotte has been pushed by the community colleges. He cites President Tony Zeiss's leadership at Central Piedmont Community College and the big role he is playing in community effort to build an entrepreneurial culture in the city. He also cites what's happening at Catawba Valley Community College regarding the Innovation Fund, being supported by the Kauffman Foundation.


Ron Thomas, NACCE’s VP of Membership, talked about a new partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission. This is exciting because it’s an opportunity for us to connect with these colleges and getting them involved in the entrepreneurship programs.


Karen-Michelle Mirko, VP of Marketing and Meaningful Collisions, recognized the exciting new partnerships that NACCE has started this year. One is with HP-LIFE, which faculty are integrating into their courses. There will be several sessions on this at the conference. There are 6 HP-LIFE Ambassadors at the conference.


Ron Thomas also acknowledged the presence of people who have participated in the Sam's Cliub Shared Vision program that was announced at last year's conference. The next round of colleges for this program will be announced later in the conference.


The recap of NACCE's year included the fact that the NACCE Fellows and the Ambassadors program were started this year. These are all great people to connect with at the conference.



Tags:  NACCE2013  NACE 

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